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Champs Shutout Richland in Season Opener

Noah Maddox
Posted 3/12/24

The Cascade Champions started their campaign on the diamond with an impressive 8-0 win at Richland on Monday.

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Champs Shutout Richland in Season Opener


Led by a dominant shutout performance on the mound from Jayden Hathcock, the Cascade Champions picked up a road victory over the Richland Raiders, 8-0, to open the season on Monday night.

The sophomore lefty finished with 10 strikeouts and only one walk over five complete innings. Despite giving up a total of six hits, including five through the first two innings, his fastball-curveball combo kept Richland hitters off-balance all night long. 

Bryce Miller started on the mound for the hosts, and he went six up, six down against a very potent Champions’ lineup. Meanwhile, he and his teammates put some traffic on the basepaths in the first two innings against Hathcock, but they were unable to come up with that final hit to drive home any runners. 

Richland left two runners on base in the first inning, but they quickly responded in the second. Jamison Andrews poked a soft liner to right field to lead off the inning, Brody Kincannon hustled out a softly hit single that rolled right between the first and second basemen, and then Jack Jackson reached safely on a perfectly placed bunt to load the bases with nobody out. 

However, this is when Hathcock really locked in on the mound. A four-pitch strikeout of the nine-hole hitter Cole Drake was followed up with back-to-back five-pitch strikeouts against the top two hitters in the order for the Raiders in Carter Edwards and Will Shirey. Hathcock escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed, and he proceeded to allow only one hit while racking up five more strikeouts in his final three innings of work.

Correspondingly, the Cascade bats woke up in the top of the third. Starting catcher Thomas Demartelaere singled under the glove of the shortstop, Jackson, to lead off the inning, and after a James Magee bunt single followed by a full-count walk drawn by Jordan Childress, the visitors had juiced the bases with nobody out themselves.

Tullahoma transfer and leadoff hitter Bryceton Bunch then grounded out, and after senior Sawyer Lovvorn struck out looking on three pitches, Bryce Miller was one out away from escaping his own jam as first baseman Walker Craig stepped into the box. Craig, the only returning hitter with an OPS that was over 1.000 last season, worked a 2-1 count before depositing a liner that nearly split the gap in right-centerfield for a clutch two-out, two-RBI single that broke the scoreless deadlock.

Childress was held at third, and after cleanup hitter Connor Melson took strike one, Craig took off for second base, hoping to draw a throw from Miller that would allow Childress to reach home for a third run to end the inning. That throw from Miller did in fact come, and Craig was able to avoid being tagged until his teammate scored from third to tack on another run for the Champs.

As Hathcock continued to mow down Richland hitters into the 5th inning, he also tacked on a single in the 4th inning. Courtesy runner Caden Hammonds stole second, and after a Logan Green strikeout, he also attempted to steal third, drawing a throw from Cole Drake. Drake’s throw then sailed into left field, allowing Hammonds to come around to score Cascade’s fourth run of the night.

The knockout blow came in the 5th inning in the form of a Sawyer Lovvorn 3-run home run off of Tucker Mayo that broke the game wide open for Cascade. Craig would tack on the eighth and final run of the night in the top of the 7th with a one-out RBI double. 

Craig and Lovvorn each finished with three RBIs in the 8-0 win in what was a complete team effort for Cascade. Both teams were coming off of not only district and region tournament titles, but also a sub-state appearance from a year ago, so such a dominant win in the season opener for the visitors bodes well for the rest of the season. 

Richland falls to 0-1 while Cascade improves to 1-0 (0-0) and will play at Eagleville on Tuesday, LIVE on WZNG The Zinger 100.9 and AM 1400 starting at 6:15 pm.

Cascade (1-0) | 0 | 0 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 0 | 1 | 10H| 8 R| 0 E  

Richland (0-1) |0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 8H| 0 R| 1 E

WP: Jayden Hathcock (1-0) 

(5.0 IP, 6H, 10K, 1 BB, 0 ER)

LP: Bryce Miller (0-1)

Cascade Champions, Richland Raiders